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TLDSB working on issues of lack of substitute teachers, bus drivers

DAN CEARNS, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, for The Standard

KAWARTHA LAKES: The Trillium Lakelands District School Board (TLDSB) has been dealing with a shortage of substitute teachers and bus drivers as the school year has started.

These issues were discussed during a TLDSB Committee of the Whole meeting, on Tuesday, October 12th.

Following a verbal report from Education Director Wes Hahn, Trustee Gary Brohman asked if the board has enough supply teachers to meet the demand.

Director Hahn responded, saying “on paper” they do, but it ultimately “comes down to [their] availability.”

Superintendent Traci Hubbert elaborated on this issue.

“No, we do not have enough occasional staff right now to manage the needs we have in the system. We are having shortages on a regular basis,” she said. “It is currently a struggle to find occasional staff for all employee groups.”

The COVID-19 pandemic has complicated the board’s process in finding substitute teachers.

“Right now, a lot of our occasional staff have taken leaves, for a variety of reasons. Some people are still anxious about [COVID-19], which is valid, and [they] don’t wish to work in multiple centres, or locations, or even work in schools where the children aren’t vaccinated,” superintendent Hubbert explained.

She noted the issue is greater in elementary schools than in secondary schools right now and added it’s been “worse” trying to find educational assistants (EA).

Superintendent Tim Ellis told trustees “September was rather slow” in terms of bus driver applications, but he is hopeful October will see more drivers “looking for employment.” But, he added the board is faring “much better” in servicing routes than most boards in the province.

At a meeting last month, Superintendent Ellis said, “bus drivers are at a premium these days,” and finding drivers is challenging, not just for TLDSB but also “across the province.”

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